Please note: The winner of a shiny new copy of DIARY OF COZETTE has been won by Jane L, who left a comment on this post. Congrats, Jane!
Today, I'm featuring a guest--Amanda McIntyre! A connoisseur of life, Amanda has sampled everything from an office career and motherhood to being a newspaper columnist turned fiction writer. Her work is described as "superbly sensual, powerful, emotional, and character-driven." Hailing from the Midwest (Yay! Me, too!), Amanda McIntyre, aka Pamela Johnson, enjoys the change of seasons, her always busy family life, and writing. She is the multi-genre published author of several novels, anthologies, novellas, and short stories as well as non-fiction.
As always when I have a guest, my words are in bold. Amanda is speaking italics!
So why don't you share a blurb about your newest release, Amanda!
Passion knows no status or wealth.
True, I am but a mere maidservant from a great house, snatched from a wretched existence of poverty and desperation to serve noblemen of wealth and privilege.
While I am indeed of lowly rank, I am also a young woman who allowed herself to sample life's greatest pleasures in the hands of these titled men. My tales overflow in this journal, penning my journey to becoming a woman of power of the most base, yet stimulating, breed.
Unmarried and twenty, yet betrothed to no man, I would be considered a spinster by most, yet this is of my own ardent intention. With my unabashed lushness and wisdom regarding a man's most vehement cravings, I am not lacking for suitors or proposals given in the heat of passion. No, I have yet to meet the man who will challenge me, satisfy me in all ways, not only of the flesh.
For where passion and desire are fleeting, my heart continues to beat..
Sounds like Cozette is a strong heroine who knows her own mind. My kind of gal. When I first saw the title I thought you might be doing a derivative story based on the Cozette in Les Miserables, but obviously no. Tell us what inspired this story.
I am inspired by many things in my writing; movies, music, art and research. I love to research obscure bits about history, legends and lore. I was on one of my rampades of researching Victorian England when I came across information about "white slavery" in England. Not only were there double standards when it came to men and women, but between social classes as well. As I continued my research I discovered some disturbing notions of the time. One, that it was healthy for men to have sex with virgins--and secondly, that there were some families , so poor and with so many children that they would sell their older daughters to brothels or direct to wealthy men for this very purpose. So I wondered what it must have been like to be a young woman at that time, perhaps the youngest daughter of a family beset with poverty and having no alternative but to send their daughter away to where they thought she'd be safe. I was troubled in reading how many young girls simply disappeared, sold to men and no one ever heard or saw them again. Maybe I wanted to know that one of them escaped and survived?
That is when I met Cozette. Her story is told in diary form and follows her from the time she is sent to an uncaring Uncle and Aunt, and then on to an orphanage where she meets her first love, and then her escape of being sold by the greedy orphange director, only to wind up on the streets of London, where she must learn how to survive. A chance kindness shown to a stately woman and her strange husband brings her to the station of maidservant at an English country manor. And this is where Cozette's life begins to blossom, becoming a lover, a friend, a companion, and a woman. But even as she enjoys the present , she ponders her future, and remains haunted by her past. Will she ever find a man who can accept her for all that she is and all that she's has been through?
And they claim romance is formulaic! This is a very fresh storyline. What's the coolest thing about your hero?
He has his flaws, both physical and emotional. He isn't perfect. He's made mistakes, but his love for Cozette never dies, even over a long period of time. He carries his pain and secrets that could do more harm than good to reveal, but he does so with compassion and honor. He is willing to sacrifice his own happiness for Cozette's. Though he is a patient, honorable man, he cannot deny the suffering of the passion re-awakened inside him, that he thought long dead.
Oh, yay! A tortured hero. Lots of my readers are also aspiring writers. What's the best piece of writing advice you can offer, Amanda?
Be flexible. Change is the only constant, I believe it's said. And never is it more true than the publishing industry. Not only is this true in writing that story that you desperately want to write, regardless of the market , but even more personally-for example revisions and reviews.
I once thought that to have to do "revisions" meant I was a "bad" writer. I have since come to learn that revisions are designed to strengthen the story, to make it the best it can be. Your editor, if she is a good one, will see with fresh eyes the things that you might not having been with the story 24/7 for 6 months. Don't go "diva" on your editor-make it a team effort. After all your goals are the same!
Having started out doing book reviews,(ina a galaxy far, far away) I have come to learn that reviews are subjective. Do we all hope for the stellar, top of the line all the time reviews? Of course we do! But I was told once that you are only as good as your next book, so don't rest too long on the laurels (or the bad reviews, god forbid) of one book, but get busy on that next book--and make it better, by what you've learned from your experiences with that first book.
What's next for you, Amanda?
Coming in August 2009 is TORTURED. It sounds interesting certainly, given its an erotic tale, but this is set in the Dark Ages and admittedly was a bit of a challenge to write! This is also where I have to credit my editor, Lara Hyde, for her eyes in seeing this story and helping me to create a fascinating story, full of the richenss and torment of that era. This is told in first person, from both the heroine and heroes POV's, which made an interesting journey of each of these characters to where fate finally brings them together and they will end up saving one another or killing each other. I am intrigued by medieval history. The stories are endless, of wars and feuds, of alliances, and arranged marriages. After going on a spree of watching every medieval age movie I could get my hands on, I was struck with how popular the events of beheadings were in those days. Entertainment for many, personal or political resolution for others I suppose. I wondered if there were ever such things as female executioners? Not many I discovered, but it was enough for me to ask, "what if" and that is when Sierra, my heroine who's life is spared, but who is sentenced by a ruthless Saxon king to become his executioners apprentice. A fate perhaps worse than death.
The title then depicts not only the obvious conotation of the word , but also the metaphorical defintion as well.
Regular readers of this blog know I'd rather be on a cruise ship (destination immaterial) that just about anywhere. Just for fun--what's your favorite place in the world, Amanda?
That I have visited ? Because the list of "not yet visited" favorite places to drool over is substantial!
I have plenty of "wanna-see's" myself but I can't claim them as favs till my feet actually walk the ground.
Okay, well I have to say, anywhere my family is (aww) but after that? I love the Great Lakes . In particular Mackinac Island, Whitefish Point and all along the western shore of Lake Superior. My favorite thing to do is to sit at twilight, wrapped in a blanket on a comfy adirondack chair and watch the sun set and listen to the waves lap the shore. I love walking the desolate beach at Whitefish Point, far from the museum oglers, clear down to the point where no one goes. There is something so powerful and ethereal there. The weather on the lakes can change at the blink of an eye and I am reminded of how very small I am in comparison to nature's majesty. I feel the same way about the northern Oregon coast.
Whitefish Point sounds splendid. Too often the Midwest is overlooked but there are some great get-away spots. My DH and I honeymooned on a remote lake in the north woods of Minnesota. It was late May, the ice had just left the lake and we didn't see another soul all week. Or maybe we weren't very observant at the time . . .
Writers always have a few pots boiling. What are you working on now?
My current WIP, THE MASTER & THE MUSES features my randy Pre-Raphaelite artist, Mr. Thomas Everett Rodin, from Cozette. This is a book of three novellas, three women selected By Mr. Rodin to be his muses for his artwork. Told from each of their perspectives from the moment they first meet, to how their lives are changed in the company of such a volatile and passionate man, and what eventually becomes of them.
Where can readers learn more about you?
My website is Amanda McIntyre
I am only recently beginning to put together my personal blog. but here is my myspace ;))
Sounds great! I adore art and stories about artists! Thanks for sharing with us today, Amanda.
Be sure to leave a comment or question for Amanda so you'll be entered to win a copy of Diary of Cozette!